Everyone’s favorite fighting panda returned to to cinema screens across China for the third time on Friday, taking in an estimated 107 million yuan ($16.1 million) in its first day at the box office.
According to Forbes, the enthusiasm with which the film has been met in the Chinese market has led several analysts to predict that Kung Fu Panda 3 has the potential to break box office records for the biggest three-day bow ever for an animated title in China.
Kung Fu Panda 3 is a joint production by Oriental DreamWorks and DreamWorks Animation, benefiting by being considered a local film in China. This classification means that the film gets to avoid the quota imposed on foreign productions which led to the seventh Star Wars installment being released in China a month after its international release.
Its first day total already compares favorably against the 116.6 million yuan earned by Universal/Illumination’s Minions last September at a launch which included midnight screenings.
Analysts are even predicting that the film could best last summer’s homegrown hit The Monkey King: Hero is Back to become the highest grossing animated film ever to screen on the mainland.
But in a market which has grown exponentially over the previous years, some have said that Dreamworks’ choice of release date, just prior to Spring Festival, will hurt its prospects at the box office and that anything less than a $250 million (1.6 billion yuan) final gross would be disappointing.
For many of Hollywood’s studios and producers, Kung Fu Panda 3 is a ditch attempt to restore their fortunes in China after a long stretch of underperforming American films. Furious 7 was the last blockbuster hit on the mainland. There will be much soul searching if a film tailor-made for Chinese audiences does not meet expectations.